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Sennen RNLI lifeguards rescue young child from rip current as peak season ends

Lifeguards News Release

RNLI lifeguards at Sennen Cove beach rescued a young child from a rip current whilst on patrol yesterday evening. The RNLI is encouraging people to choose a lifeguarded beach throughout September as patrols on certain beaches finish as the end of the season approaches.

Nigel Millard

Just before 5:30pm yesterday afternoon, RNLI lifeguard Bert Wright spotted a young child struggling in a rip current around 600m away from the red and yellow flagged area.

RNLI lifeguard Pete Geall immediately paddled over to the casualty on a rescue board. As he reached the casualty, a member of the public had managed to lift her out of the water and onto their stand up paddleboard. Pete then transferred the child onto his rescue board and paddled her back to safety ashore.

Whilst Pete was helping the child, her mother had realised the danger she was in and had entered the water to attempt to rescue the child herself. RNLI lifeguard Calum Gardener rescued her using a rescue board and brought her safely to shore.

Pete said:

‘After this incident, we placed a red flag at the water’s edge in front of the rip current to prohibit beachgoers entering the water and getting caught in the current. Bert was incredibly alert in spotting this near drowning from such a distance and across a very busy beach. Without our intervention and the assistance from the member of the public on the paddleboard, this could have escalated into a much more serious incident.’

Later in the day, after they had finished their patrols, Bert and Pete rescued an adult bodyboarder and a 12 year old child from the same rip current.

Ollie Shilston, RNLI lifeguard supervisor for the area, said:

‘These are three very serious incidents that Pete and Bert dealt with yesterday and they skilfully carried out their duties even after their patrol had finished. These incidents highlight the importance of visiting a lifeguarded beach. We ask that you always swim red and yellow flags that are on display whilst the lifeguards are on duty as they mark out the safest area to swim on the beach.

We also ask that you never attempt to perform a rescue yourself. Our lifeguards are highly trained with excellent knowledge of the local area and so can perform these rescues whilst off duty. If you do see someone in trouble at the coast, always dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

These rescues come only days before the RNLI lifeguard peak season comes to a close meaning that some beaches across the south west will no longer be patrolled. There will, however, still be lifeguards on patrol at the majority of beaches around the region for the month of September.

Patrols have finished on the following beaches:

Devon: Teignmouth, Dawlish Warren, Bigbury North, Thurlestone, Blackpool Sands, Slapton, Hope Cove, Burnham-on-Sea, Berrow and Milrock on Woolacombe beach.

Cornwall: Freathy, Tregantle (closed weekdays only), Pollurrian, Gunwalloe, Porthleven, Marazion, Porthkidney, Carbis Bay, Perranuthnoe, South Fistral, Lusty Glaze, Crantock River, From 9 September, Crackington Haven and Northcott in Bude will also no longer be lifeguarded.

Steve Instance, Community Safety Partner, said:

‘We normally see a change in weather conditions during September, with Atlantic swells making conditions more challenging. We’re still expecting people to be enjoying the coast, especially if we have more good weather, so it’s important people make sure the beach they’re visiting is lifeguarded. RNLI lifeguards are still on patrol at the majority of south west beaches daily throughout September, from 10am until 6pm daily. To find your nearest RNLI lifeguarded beach, please visit:

Notes to Editor

  • RNLI lifeguards patrol over 249 beaches around the UK and Channel Islands

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For more information, please contact Emma Haines, Regional Media Officer, at or Amy Caldwell, Regional Media Officer, at

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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